Allspice Allergy Test
Latin name: Pimenta dioica
Source material: Dried unripe allspice berries
Common names: Pimento, Jamaica pimento, Jamaica pepper, pimenta, myrtle pepper
Synonyms: Pimenta officinalis
Allspice is a spice which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
NB: Allspice should not be confused with pimento, which is a red, heart-shaped sweet pepper unrelated to Pimenta dioica.
Several species also use the name “allspice” including Carolina allspice, Japanese allspice and wild allspice, as well as the herb costmary. These are all unrelated to Pimenta dioica.
Allspice Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Allspice is the dried fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant, a tropical evergreen tree belonging to the myrtle family.
Ground allspice, or the whole berry, is widely used in a variety of food products, such as pickles, ketchup, seafood seasoning, curry powder, formulations for sausages, pickled meats and fish products, in sweet goods baking, puddings and fruit preparations.
It is one of the most important ingredients in Caribbean cuisine, used in jerk seasoning, moles and in pickling. In the Middle East it is a common ingredient in stews and meat dishes and is often the sole spice used in many recipes. A liqueur produced from allspice known as “pimento dram” is manufactured in the West Indies.
In the United Kingdom and Germany it is extensively used in sausage production and other cured meats. In the United States it is the key ingredient in Cincinnati style chili, as well as being used in a range of desserts.
In Poland, allspice is used in a variety of dishes, including savory foods like deli meats, soups, marinades and pickles, and to a lesser extent in desserts and fruit drinks.
Allspice is also used in herbal therapies and as a perfume for soaps. Hot allspice tea has been used for colds, menstrual cramps and upset stomachs.
Allspice oil contains the chemical eugenol, which may be used to promote digestive enzyme activity and as a pain reliever. Dentists sometimes use eugenol as a local anesthetic for teeth and gums.
The leaves of the allspice tree may be used in a similar manner to bay leaves to flavour food, and both the leaves and wood can be used to smoke meat or fish in areas where allspice is plentiful.
Due to its widespread use in processed foods and cosmetic products, allspice may be considered a hidden allergen.
Allspice Allergy Test: Allergen Description
No allergens present in allspice have yet been characterised.
Allspice Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
Cross reactivity between other members of the Myrtaceae family, including guava, eucalyptus, clove and acca might be expected, although this has not been observed to date.
Allspice Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Cases of allergic reactions to spices have been documented after ingestion, however, the main route of exposure for workers in the spice trade is inhalation.
When applied directly to the skin, allspice may cause allergic skin reactions in sensitised individuals. Skin contact with spices occurs primarily in cosmetic handlers, food workers, butchers, chefs, home makers and occasionally in users of cosmetics.
Some spices contain active and irritant substances that can affect the mucosa of the mouth or gastrointestinal tract.